Material and meaningful homes: mental health impacts and psychosocial benefits of rehousing to new dwellings

Int J Public Health. 2011 Dec;56(6):597-607. doi: 10.1007/s00038-011-0275-3. Epub 2011 Aug 13.


Objective: To establish whether rehousing people to new dwellings had impacts upon residents' mental health and psychosocial benefits derived from the home.

Methods: A prospective controlled study across Scotland involving 723 householders (334 intervention; 389 control). Interviews were carried out just prior to the move, and 2 years thereafter.

Results: Changes in self-reported psychosocial benefits were greater than changes in mental health. Respondents in family households appeared to have gained the most and those in older person households the least. For those in families, the most consistent effects flowed from improvements in space, privacy and change of location; for those in adult-only households, improvements in crime and safety mattered most. Gains in psychosocial benefits were associated with improved mental health (SF-36) scores.

Conclusions: Rehousing has substantial impacts on residential conditions and on psychosocial benefits, and lesser (possibly indirect) impacts upon mental health. Housing is a complex intervention applied to a heterogeneous group for a range of reasons. Hence its impacts result from different aspects of residential change for particular types of household.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychology*
  • Public Housing / standards*
  • Scotland
  • Social Problems